The media loves nothing more than a good boning and poor old Matthew Slatter must be lamenting the sheer scale of the coverage he received after getting the bullet from Tabcorp yesterday.

CEO sackings don’t happen all that often but there’s no doubt Melbourne is the corporate boning capital of Australia, even though the city’s share of the top 50 companies has plunged in recent years. Here’s the tally of Melbourne’s prominent CEO victims from the last five years:

Ziggy Switkowski: sacked as Telstra CEO in December 2004 but was one of the Tabcorp directors who fired Slatter yesterday and is a candidate to become chairman.

Frank Cicutto: sacked as NAB CEO in January 2004 after the $360 million foreign exchange scandal.

Duncan Fischer: sacked as Tattersall’s CEO last year after institutions insisted Unitab’s Dick McIlwain run the combined business.

Russell Jones: sacked as Amcor CEO last year after confessing to running a box cartel, allegedly with Dick Pratt.

Andrew Lindberg: ousted as AWB CEO in February 2006 in the early days of the Cole inquiry.

Brian Gilbertson: fired by the BHP-Billiton board in January 2003 over “irreconcilable differences”.

Peter Smedley: ousted as Mayne CEO in August 2002 after blundering his relationship with the doctors.

This is more than the rest of Australian combined over the same period when the high profile oustings have included James Hardie’s Peter Macdonald, PBL’s Peter Yates (a Melbourne boy), Aristocrat’s Des Randall, Seven’s Maureen Plasvic and Lend Lease’s David Higgins.

Melbourne’s corporate culture has clearly changed because the establishment was well-known in the 1990s for allowing ordinary CEOs to stay for too long. Here’s the crop of Melbourne CEOs that should have boned years earlier than they were:

Will Bailey, ANZ: 8 years

John Prescott, BHP: 7 years

Phil Weickhardt, Orica: 4 years

Rod Chadwick, Pacific Dunlop: 5 years

The weird thing about the different cultures of Melbourne and Sydney is that NSW Labor has arguably sacked more senior bureaucrats than any other government in history, as this list shows. Jeff Kennett loved lopping heads but it now rarely happens in Victoria under Steve Bracks.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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